Naomi Osaka Reflects on Prioritizing Her Mental Health: ‘My Decision to Help Myself Was Also Helping Others’

The tennis player temporarily stepped away from her sport in 2021 to focus on her mental well-being.
Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka.

Naomi Osaka is an elite athlete who knows how important it is to prioritize both her physical and mental well-being. The four-time Grand Slam tennis champ famously withdrew from the French Open in 2021 in order to focus on her mental health.

In a recent interview with People, the mom-to-be opened up about that time in her life. She noted in particular the outpouring of support she received from her fans.

“It’s always really heartwarming when people tell me that I have helped them with their own struggles. I remember being in a grocery store one time and someone stopped me to tell me how much I meant to them as they were dealing with their own mental health struggles,” Osaka told the outlet. “At the time, I was doing it for myself but I realized that my decision to help myself was also helping many others.”

The former world No. 1-ranked singles player is currently taking time away from her sport again, but this time for a different reason: she and her boyfriend, rapper Cordae, are currently expecting their first child together. Osaka announced the thrilling news on Instagram in January.

The one-time SI Swimsuit model also told People she plans to continue focusing on herself in order to be the best mother she can be to her unborn child.

“I would say for me, I just want to be the best version of myself,” she said. “Obviously, I’ve never been a mother before so I’m taking it day-by-day and just trying to be someone that my son or daughter will be proud of.”

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.